A mother’s worst nightmare

This little bird suddenly appeared along the track to the backpaddock.  It is (I stick my neck out again in bird id’n, a Shining Bronze Cuckoo), I base it on the fact that it doesn’t have any rufous marks along the tail feather edges. (although it could be a young bird, or moulting, or … ).  There have been a number of Horsfields in the area too, so, I’ll probably get the usual run of emails on why why why.  But in the end, it hunted in the trees, was extremely hungry, and was very successful.  Its hunting technique reminded me of why these birds are so successful at what they do.  It checked every nook and cranny on every tree it flew too.  No doubt it does the same technique for finding a host nest.

No wonder the Thornbills and Robins are so furtive.

Now, I’ve said it before, the arrangement between the Will of Scarlet, the now local Scarlet Robin and a certain female red-cap is interesting to say the least. Just in case the sceptics are having a field day here is one I took today of the redcap, and just as I pressed the shutter, the Scarlet came by.  I didn’t see him of course, as the mirror was up at the time.  It was only when I was editing down earlier tonight, I found his presence in my pic.

The mystery becomes a little clearer or more complicated

Because of a family event, we were on the road early to Ballarat.  On the way back, on my own, I dropped by the park. The weather was sunny and the wind had dropped off.  Nice.

After about 15 minutes, Primrose came by and was quite happy to pose in the sunshine. No sight of Lochie, and I don’t know where he is, and she wasn’t telling.

Also the male Scarlet,  I’ve decided he should be Will of Scarlet,  sort of Robin Hood style. Will of Scarlet came by and was quite vocal.  After about an hour, I saw him fly rapidly into a nearby bush, and another bird emerged out the back a couple of seconds later. At first it was hard to make out, and the light was never going to be great for a photo, but…. Lo and behold..  Its a female Scarlet Robin.  She was in a hurry to feed, and to wing stretch, so I think we might have a nesting function going on.  I hope so.  Anyway that explains the male and his hunt and carry activities. What it doesn’t explain is his attention to the female red-cap.   Or it might just be the birdy neighbourly thing.  More watching me thinks.

On the way back to the car, a small feeding party of White-winged Choughs came by, the light was falling, but they got into a ruckus over a small area on the side of the road. Much calling, squawking, alarm calling and jumping in the air. They also seemed to be intent to keep one another away from what ever it was. When they moved on I had a look and a large ‘shingleback’ lizard has a hole there and he was quite put out that his afternoon in the sun had been disturbed.  Several of the Choughs had white stuff on their wings which is pretty typical of birds that are sitting nest, with young who can now excrete, so there’s another generation of White-winged Choughs in there somewhere. How cool.

Enjoy the moments, we do.

Primrose at close quarters. She was happy to hunt around me, and come back quite close to check it all out. No nesting bump, so I don’t think she has started for real yet.


Scarlet Male in the very late afternoon light. Pity about the small branch across his wing and neck.


Female Scarlet Robin. As good as I got in the failing light. First time We’ve seen her in about three weeks.


White-winged Choughs giving a shinglebacked lizard a piece of their minds.




House building with Emma, the Red-capped Robin

After yesterday’s boon day, it was going to be hard to better it.

But we headed out with high hopes, after all the alternative was mowing the lawn. I’ve always thought if I wanted to mow lawns, I’d have become a green keeper at a golf club, rather than a picture maker.

Found Lockie and Primrose around the park entrance track, and saw a fleeting glimpse of a male Flame Robin but couldn’t get anywhere near it to identify or photograph.
Then a lot of sitting in the sun. Which was nice.  But no birds.

The Scarlet pair are conspicuous by their absence with no loud carolling through the treetops, so I must admit with a small degree of sadness that they have moved on and won’t be staying over to colour up the park with their cheery appearance and happy call.

Our stay over families of Flames are now definitely gone.  No sign of them anywhere today, and we could always count on hearing their clippy little chants.  What we’ve got instead are the calls of a couple of Horsfields Cuckoos and at least one Fantail Cuckoo.
So with the backpaddock still well and truly locked, and the Bandicoots enjoying a very nicely prepared new residence and hopefully the foxes all contained and the echidnas trained not to exit the fence with out permission, our best bet lay in looking for some new areas. And we set out for a bit of an explore.

As it happens we pulled up in the sunshine on  a log to enjoy a cuppa, and a little brown/red streak zoomed past.  We followed its path into a tree, and then multiple branch jumping, and zig-zaging through the branches, we noted it to be a female Red-capped Robin.  “She has a nest”, I confidently announced.   (having seen that sort of behaviour on more than one occasion.)

A few seconds later, and she was busy putting in a new layer on the edge, tidying things up a bit, re-arranging the kitchen, hanging curtains and setting up the entertainment area.  (no only kidding, she’s a bird).

Her mate, Alec, turned up, and he and Emma, (that’s her new name,) both inspected the work in progress, and with the usual nest twittering, approved the operation, and she got on with attaching even more extensions.  He hunted, and no doubt shared some food with her, but I didn’t see that, as it happened behind another thick wattle tree, and I could only hear the twittering.

So, here she is in all her splendour at home. We’ll not go over that way for a few weeks, so it will be interesting to see how well she fares.   I mostly try to work out where the nests are so I can stay away from the area and give her the privacy she so deservers. Hope it all goes well.

While it looks like a pretty secure home, it’s not until you see her wiggling and jiggling to get it to fit her body, that you appreciate how really fragile it all is. Still it seems to work.

A day out with the Sisters

Took sometime this morning from the routine things and Dorothy and I headed to the park, inspite of the weather.  There was a cold north wind blowing the trees around home and it didn’t look all that good for the park.  However, as these things do, the sun managed to find openings in the clouds and a sundrenched Tawny Frogmouth was preening in the tree near the carpark. A good start.

Down along the track toward the still locked conservation area, we managed to find a few Flame Robins. Mostly females. This is a bit of a change as they have been few and far between this season. Mostly I think because they have been hunting down the range inside the proposed Bandicoot area. ‘Nuff said about that.

Not that the ladies were in any way inclined to be helpful, hunting among the smaller trees and among the dead blackwood wattles.  Little light in there, and hard to see a bird, let alone apply the autofocus to them. Hunting may be what they were doing, but so was the autofocus.
Then the male Scarlet Robin put in an appearance.  And managed to place himself in the sunshine and not among all the loose sticks and leaves and for the first time in quite awhile I managed couple of reasonable shots, and also the chance to get a really good look at him. And how he has changed since those early days in December when he first arrived, looking all brown and dishevelled.  My money was on it being a female, for a couple of weeks, and then slowly the feathers began to moult in. Now to see him, full grown, remarkable deep black head, stunning red chest, and a lovely white cap over his beak.  He really is the part.

Now he has his own lady, and I’m hoping that they may stay over, it would be such a treat for the forest.
The little female red-cap hasn’t been seen since the gates were closed for Bandicooting, so I really don’t know what has become of her.  I did come across a small, single female down along the old hospital fence-line last week. After about 40 minutes there was no sign of any male companion, so she does appear on her own. I want to get another day in to check on that.  Perhaps this might be the lone female?  I can only guess and speculate.  There are probably a number of displaced young from the last season.

The Flames sisters came past at rate of knots, keeping on the move all the time, so it was really a matter of catch them as I could.  But so quickly come, so quickly gone.

Here are a couple that gave me a few seconds to get organised.

Tawny Frogmouth in preening mode in the late morning sunshine. It was so intent that it didn’t adopt the traditional stance, but happily worked away at its feathers.
Male Scarlet Robin, now a most elegant looking bird.
Lone male Flame Robin hunting along the park access track
Lockie on fence wire, I like the out of focus sweep of the wire.
Lovely female Flame Robin. The sunlight poured through the leaves of the trees as the strong wind moved them about. I waited until a break of sunshine came.
Flame Robin in “HIgh Key”. I’ve rambled on before about high key, but it does provide, life, excitement, freshness to an image. The camera nailed the exposure. Pretty much as shot.

Red-caps and Flame Robins

Redcap 106 by birdsaspoetry
Redcap 106, a photo by birdsaspoetry on Flickr.

The weather is certainly not co-operating for bird photographers. We have been out about 6 times and only one of them has had any sunshine, and when it did, the birds were no where to be found.
After looking at the gloomy weather in the morning, it was already time to call it quits, but I had changed cameras due to a technical glitch with one of them. (Technical glitch is tech speak for the #@$$% shutter packed it in and it will have to take a trip to camera hospital, and most likely the outcome will be, “Cheaper to buy a new camera mate”, always said with a smile.
So to try out the old system, we loaded up, and headed on out.
It is so late in the season now, that the Flames are not likely to be seen as a flock, in fact, my guess is that another week and they will be gone.
Found Lockie and Primrose, both very busy with the business of breakfast. She captured a great big moth, and spent a few seconds tendering it up on a brach, before gulping it down and looking very pleased with herself.
We also found a small hunting family of Flame Robins and they were very furtive. One landed in a tree and gave me a few seconds to get a peekaboo shot through the leaves.
Also saw a pair a of Scarlet Robins. We are both hoping that they will setup a territory. He is most vocal and travels about the canopy displaying as he goes. Time I guess will tell.

Via Flickr:
This little male was hunting in the early morning rain, and took to working from a stump about 6 metres from me. He filled the frame on the 500m +TC2.0, and when he dropped on to the ground to feed he was beyond the closest focus of the lens, but I had a really good view of him that close. DOF is so small that its legs and eyes, cap and chest iin focus, everything else is out of focus.

These images I’ve posted directly. Cannot figure out how to get them out of Flickr as a set.

This bird landed in a small growth tree and proceeded to play peekaboo through the leaves at me. The TC20 on the 500mm lens made autofocus a real nightmare. But. The result was worth the persistence.
Sometimes images make me smile and this one does.
This female has already built at least one nest, and is starting to show the egg patch in her chest feathers. Perhaps with a few days of warmer weather she might be ready to lay.
This is one of two males in a small hunting party. They are moving so quickly through the scrub now as they bulk up for their soon coming journey to the high country. He landed just near my camera position but was gone without stopping to feed. Obviously looking for the best stuff now.

Woodlands and Red-capped Robins

I might have mentioned in the previous post that timing is everything.  And it is, so is getting close.
We never ever seem to have a short distance between our lens and the birds we love.  We sneak up, we sit and wait, we drive about hoping to find a bird that is inquisitive enough to come-look-see, and we buy expensive, long focal length lenses when it becomes apparent that aside from patience, not much else works. (Luck of course being the factor that most other people have.  I was once a member of a junior football club, the coach began by explaining, “We’ve been having a run of luck lately.  …… Long pause….. “All bad.”

So I’ve been haunting the camera stores, pouring over pages on ebay, all hoping that I could find that magic lens at an even more magic price.  Not that my AF-S 500m F/4 is a slacker.   Just want it to be longer.   So after a bit of soul-searching, (most would tell you that wouldn’t take long in my case), I decided to get Nikon’s new TC20eIII televerter.  Now the websites will tell you it won’t focus, won’t work, isn’t sharp, won’t put the cat out at night, and makes appalling coffee, but I’ve learned to ignore most of that.

Truth be told it does focus.  Somewhat erratically on my D700, well on my D200. The problem is the little elves inside get tired of trying and give up.  So the lens sometimes locks, or it loses focus and then goes all the way from one end of the range to the other, hopefully stopping at the right spot on the way back. Sometimes.  Sometimes the elves get distracted by the light coming through the trees, or the highlights on a leaf.  But, hey its 1000mm and if it was an old manual focus lens, I would have to rock back and forward over the focus point anyway. For those young’ns who don’t understand that sentence, back in the days before autofocus we used to manually- by hand and eye-  focus the lens.  Strange but there you have it.

So here I am in the forest.  2x on board.

And up pops Primrose.  For a bit of a chat.  The first image is full frame.  She was that close.  7 metres it says.  The second image is also close to full frame. just cropped a bit of the top. 5 metres it says.  Couldn’t get all of her in the frame. Just in case anyone is guessing, according to the book she stands 10-11 cm tall.  And she kept on coming closer.  In the end the focus just gave up, and I had a minute or so of a very tiny bird hunting on the roadway alongside my knee. Who said birding is hard?

But all this is about Check the sharpness.  Just a little pre-sharpening using Nik Presharpener 2.0  The image has heaps of feather detail, has kept colour and contrast and all in all if I’d have sprung the zillion dollars for the 800mm Nikon, it wouldn’t be that much better and twice as heavy to get into the bush anyway.

Also found the most beautiful Scarlet Robin female, who also posed nicely, but not quite as close. All in all a good day, and a good start to my relationship with the 2x converter.

How close can you get? Now turn to the right, work it, work it.
She is as close as the focus can work. TC20eIII on 500mm lens.
Found this beautiful Scarlet Robin in the sun on a side track. She waited long enough for me to get organised
The light was a little soft and kind. She wasn’t as close as Primrose.


Just for a bit of fun.
The photographer is the big ugly dude on the right with all the hardware. The bird, subject of said photographer, is the little tiny smudge on the lefthand side. Sort of puts it all in perspective really.


Robins’ Bath Time

There can be no doubt about it, water in small pools is a huge attraction to the small birds. It seems that once one finds a spot for an afternoon tub, the sounds of splashing water brings them all out for their turn.

After some very overcast weather and a bit of rain, I had given up hope of a day in the forest and consoled myself with looking at Bill Majoros’ site Third Bird from the Sun it is a treat and has some lovely photos and information. Worth a visit.

Anyway, by early afternoon the rain had abated, still was overcast, but I had some weekend shopping to do, so on the off chance put in the 3oomm lens and the 1,4 converter and headed out.

I hadn’t gone very far along the track when I came a small pool of water from the morning’s rain, and a flutter of wings and a male Flame Robin leapt out of the water, landed on a branch near me and began to preen.  Interesting, but what happened next was one by one the flock came down to take their afternoon bath too. They are very organised about it, and there is much cheeping and clicking involved in working out who’s turn it is next.  They don’t seem to bully one another for position and each waits patiently for the one to finish. Or steps in at the other end, just hurry things along.

That they enjoy the bath is evident by all the chattering that goes on.  So I watched and pressed the shutter, scolding myself for leaving the big lens and tripod at home- but them’s the breaks.

Toward the end of the session the local female Red-capped Robin turned up and took her place in the line.  Then some Yellow-rumped Thornbills moved in, and a Scarlet Robin,  However the Thornbills fled, and everybody followed. That is the way of a flock.

If I’d of had some sunshine, it probably would have been a red-letter day as it is, I went home with a card full of images and some pretty nice memories.

To fit them all in the page, I’ve added them as a gallery. Click on an image it will go to a larger size and you can navigate through them. Enjoy, I did. And, more importantly so did they.

Woodlands Historic Park robin season


With the ongoing closure of the Backpaddock at Woodlands, the opportunities for following Flame Robin families has been greatly diminished.  I have to admit defeat at this stage, as here we are getting close to the end of the winter over season, and I really only have a few images that I am  satisfied with. Problem is of course not being able to follow the birds as they move across the light Grey Box scrub along the ridge lines in the Backpaddock.
Not that it is doom and gloom as a few parties come out on raiding sessions into the area outside the park, but it’s impossible to predict where and when, so it is pretty much hit and miss.

Also not being able to track the Red-capped Robins movements, it will slow me down a bit when they go to nest, as I don’t have any idea where they are in the territory, and they certainly aren’t going to put up flags.  (Not that I am tracking nests, but rather where it is all happening so I can prepare for shots of the fledged young. I try not to disturb the nesting birds as she will get anxious and abandon a nest at any stage.  I think her main concern is Cuckoos, but Ravens made havoc of several nests sites last year.)

So here is a compilation of the work from about the past two weeks.  Weather has not been kind either.

The female is Primrose, and she has a territory that is outside the backpaddock. She is currently being courted by two males, but I think she seems to favour Lockie, so things will be as previous.  I do hope the younger male finds a mate as he seems most capable of defending himself.  With all the young that were produced in the area past season, it is a ponder as to where they all go.

The Flame males were beginning to call with their territory call the last few days.  They usually are gone in a fortnight or so after that.   They go early, and then the females follow about a week or so later.  But, I haven’t seen very many females, and am assuming they are up on the grey box ridges.

*** The images in the blog are now part of a gallery.  As such if you click on an image it will open them all up in a slide show.  That way you can advance through the photos rather then see them one by one and have to come back to this page for a new pic.  I think it’s more elegant, and I wish I had figured it out earlier in the blog.

Hope you like it.

Just little wanders

Had a wander over the weekend with the organised Beginners Group of Bird LIfe Asutralia (Melbourne Group).  Titles get so long these days, and the acronyms are dreadful, but by the time I get it all typed I’ve forgotten what it was I was going to ramble on about.
Oh, yeah, we went with the beginners group to Woodlands.  Now as the National Parks people are on strike, the gate at Somerton Road is closed.  Which in some way s me thinks is a good thing.  But with nearly twenty cars parked along the road it did look to say the least a bit dangerous.  And as Somerton Road is apparently the extension of some race track or other, speeds along the road are simply overwhelming at times, with some of the best passing manoeuvres that would do credit to  Mark Webber at Albert Park F1, are taken with out much concern for the narrowness of the roadway.  Anyway I digress.

The weather was pleasant if just a bit overcast and after a stroll around the Moonee Ponds Creek tracks, – Note: the river was in a flood, probably 1 1/2 meters or more deep.- we decided to move around to the Providence Road carpark and spot Robins.  And on this day, the resident Tawny Frogmouths had moved to a new tree and were not to be found.  I was pretty much accused of  climbing up in the morning and moving them. <ggg>

The gate to the Backpaddock is now closed, so we made do by following the kangaroo tracks down toward the Dam area.  Now the robins were pretty much on strike too, it seems. However I broke away from the main group and with a little bushcraft, and determined perseverance and highly developed robin finding skills.  And let’s face it. LUCK, I found the pair, Lockie and Primrose. They were taking a bit of a stroll down toward the dam as there were some nice wet patches of run-off water from the previous couple of days.  Next, call up the group, so some thirty birdwatchers descend on 10 square metres of robin feeding territory and the fun begins. “There on the tree just on the left of the other tree, near the branch sticking out behind the wattle, near the laid over stump, about a metre off the ground, oh, never mind it’s flown away.”  Much too much fun.

Some of the beginners did however manage to get a good views of Lochie and another male, and Primrose seemed completely unpreturbed by it all and just continued to feed.  So after about twenty hectic minutes with the binoculars and pointing just about everybody had seen some good robin views.

We then moved back to the cars and had another great view of several of the Flame and Scarlet robins in the paddock near the cemetery.  Enough for all, so lunch was at the Woodlands Homestead. Then a bit of a walk around Woodlands Hill, but no raptors were up.

Dorothy and I went back for another look in the pm, and found some Flame Robins and Lochie and Primrose again.  Here he is in the sunshine.

Redcapped Robin Male, hunting in the sunshine after several days of intense rain.


Here he is again with a nicer background. He is my second most favourite of the Red-caps because he is very relaxed with me most of the time.




Hello, and aren’t you looking super?

No one can say that the weather has been photographically kind over the past few days.  Its not just the risk of taking the cameras out in the rain, or the chance of getting wet, its just the light is so weak that the exposures are wide open, slow shutter speed.  Even on a tripod, the chances are the bird is breathing in and out faster than the shutter speed, so, its a blurry pic.

Stay home, do other things, play with last years images and hope for a break.

So with high hopes we set out early this morning, sun looked good, and the weather man gave us a 50/50 chance.  Should be good.

But!  The gate to the Woodlands Backpaddock is locked.  Work is going on to remove the feral invaders, and keep the feral photographers out.

Sadly we traipsed back towards the car.  But on the way, we found a lovely looking Female Scarlet Robin, so of course we stopped to play.  She and her mate were a bit skittish at first but after a little bit we managed to meet on sort of mutual terms and were able to get reasonably close. Good light and the rest was easy.

After all that excitement we travelled on a bit further and found an Eastern Yellow Robin.  Very impressive, and again a bird that once it settled down was not to fussed by being chased by a photographer.

Looks like we’ll be travelling a bit further to keep up with the Yellow Robin and fill in time till the gates are re-opened.

Female Scarlet Robin in the early morning light


Female Scarlet Robin hunting


Scarlet Robin Male


Find of the day. Eastern Yellow Robin in a small clump of Black Wattle

Foggy Morning with Robins

The lack of posts here has little to do with enthusiasm and much to do with the weather.  When its been good weather, I have been elsewhere, and when I’m all set to go to the paddocks, the weather turns viral.

But I loaded up the Driazabone (and they are which is why they are so good), and headed out.  The weather went from inclement to downright foggy.  I had trouble seeing cars coming along the track to the forest.

And it really didn’t get much better.  However a good trusty tripod is such a good thing, even if its a bit heavy.  Or gets left behind in the marshes and requires a return trip just to retrieve the missing tripod in the middle of the night. (Don’t ask, just put it down to old timers forgetfulness).

I’ve taken of late to shooting from the tripod with it very low to the ground, legs stretched out and laying behind it.  It gives the feeding birds an interesting perspective and makes the depth-of-field, both a challenge and an opportunity. Harder to nail focus on small birds, but when it does the soft backgrounds don’t get in the way. The robins on the moss beds are standing on a very narrow sharp area and everything else is out of focus. Old bones do creak a bit when I get up to move but.

The wonderful thing about mist for a photographer is soft delicate light that comes from it all, and the lovely moody effects it adds to landscapes.  It’s a bit tough through when the bird is about 8 metres away and the mist makes the image all soft and fuzzy.

But as a photographer mate says, “The light now melds over everything it touches”, and he’s right.  No harsh shadows, no contrasts, soft muted colours and light that edges its way around three dimensionally.  Super.

The robins have indeed become conspicuously absent the past few times.  The much anticipated flock hasn’t eventuated and its really small isolated families that move rapidly from place to place. But there are a few gems among them.

Male Red-cap in the soggy grass. He is a bit wet from hunting about, and very wary of me.
Another “Fatboy”. This male was on his own. He found a super big purple worm, but took off with it before I had a chance to get some eating shots. I found him on a branch looking decidedly overweight.
Another Red-capped Male. I had to walk a long way in to find him and again he was very wary of me. But the light just enveloped him.

Young Miss Heartbreaker

After a busy weekend away from birding we were both looking forward to going back out to Woodlands today.  The weather didn’t promise much and didn’t deliver much either. But on the upside we didn’t get any showers so that helped.

Once we were inside the Backpaddock a family of Flame Robins came by, but quickly disappeared and we lost them.  Mr Mighty made an appearance but for some reason we didn’t get close enough for much worthwhile photography.  After waiting fruitlessly for some other action we toured about the pathways and I found Little Miss Red red-capped Robin.  Perhaps she should be called Little Red-riding Hood.

The sun graciously shone through some cloud and a little bit of extra light helped on the moss beds.  She seemed to be unattached today and was with a small family of female and juvenile Flame Robins.

But as always at the moment, the Thornbill flock flew in, and then out and everyone was gone.  There is plenty of activity, just not sufficient time to get some great photos.

How does she look. Red-riding Hood, with her little red-breast feathers and her brilliant orange red cap.
Female Flame Robin. She seemed to be calling to the family group because they took too flight and followed her departure.

Guess who’s turning all the boy’s heads?

This little miss, has turned up over the past week or so, we spotted her in the rain, and all remarked about the ‘redness’ of her cap.

The last few days there have been a three male suitors down in the same area.  Very territorial and each of them, trying to drive off the other two. Today, one of them seemed to at least have the dominance and after a few verbal battles and some branch dancing, he moved her up the paddock away from the other two males. Nothing left for them, so they squabbled amongst themselves.

After about five minutes a little grey/brown streak zoomed down the forest and back out among the boys. With some suitable tail-wagging and some scolding tic tics, she got them all going again. One seemed to win out and again two males were left to themselves.

Something new going on all the time.

Mr Mighty and his lady are back feeding in their old quarters from last year.  He doesn’t seem to take part in the domestic worries across the forest.

An unattached female who seems to have all the local males interested
Mr Mighty feeding in a moss bed, very early in the morning, the sun is just starting to advance through the tree line


Young Flame Robin, part of a family of 5 birds.


One of the “Brothers” three males who seem to hunt as an independent group.



Robin Flock at Woodlands

Seems like forever since I opened up the WordPress files, but as life does, other things have been getting in the way from getting out to the park.

The past weekend was a washout. Literally.  We went with the Birdlife Melbourne Photography group on just the wettest day.  It poured, showered, drizzled and did just about everything except give up a bit of light and relief for the photographers.  Andrew came along to lend a hand as a guide and that gave us a bit of flexibility about where to look, but in the end, the cameras mostly stayed in the cars and the rain jackets did their job.

Not to say we didn’t find anything with the highlight being a Yellow-tufted Honeyeater and several White-naped Honeyeaters.

Not one to be put off by a few minutes disappointment, I went back out this morning in the super sunshine.  A few of the Flame families were feeding together and several other smaller parties were around the usual spots.

This Red-capped Robin was one of several from the morning, but I liked the backlighting and the good show on his chest feathers.

Second bird is from a small number of independent females that don’t seem to socialise with the other flocks.

This male is on a low branch. I am working on a very low tripod and laying on the ground to get a lower perspective. Get wetter, and muddier, but you see much more from the bird’s point of view.
Hunting in the early morning sunshine on a moss bed. I was laying on the ground, camera on a low tripod, just to get a separation from the background.